PANGAEA – Beowulf

HMG 2024


Roaring at the moon again: heavy proggers from Houston return from their hiatus with heroic tales to tell.

It had been a hattrick for this band who debuted with an impressive statement of "The Rite Of Passage" in 1996 and issued two solid follow-up records – all produced by Robert Berry – only to cease existing, without officially breaking up, in 2008. However, getting together in 2021, eighteen years after the ensemble’s original line-up shared the same room, the musicians discovered they could easily pick up at the point of leaving off and, with Berry and graphic designer Rainer Kalwitz back onboard, delivered another album. Hence “Beowulf” whose epic scope is perfectly balanced out by focus on memorable songs and alluring riffs rather than sophisticated arrangements that would compromise melodicism by showing off on instrumental level.

Still, being a quintet now, the collective never pull their punches, building momentum from the very start – with the simmering contrast between acoustic strum and electric lines of opener “Necromancer” which slowly unfolds its folk-flecked tapestry to flesh out initial balladry by adding dynamic heft to lush vocal harmonies and organ shimmer and projecting the drama onto a power-metal screen. Yet once the slightly histrionic interplay has been boiled down to Corey Schenck’s ivories weave and Ron Poulsen’s four-string rumble, the group’s cosmic leanings become clear as well, even though the piano-driven “Show Me the Way” and orchestral “Without You” should expose the listener to their romantic side, Steven Osborn’s velveteen voice and Darrell Masingale’s lyrical guitar licks stirring the audience’s soul before the infectious refrains take the scintillating serenade’s message home. But then there are the pop-tinctured, albeit intensely nuanced, “Masquerade” and “Wasape” where the titular saga is recited in Anglo-Saxon over the boiling cauldron of sound that Andi Schenck’s tribal drums and percussion propel towards delirium and the triumphant uplift of “Tomorrow Will Come” where the ensemble’s commercial edge is given a sway.

And if there’s also a need for a smile, the pseudo-patinated, vaudevillian finale “A Month Of Sundays” is bound to bring it forth. It’s a parting shot of the most welcome comeback. Hope this time the Texans returned for a long spell.


July 2, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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